Meet the 2019 Tow-Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism Cohort

A Navy veteran, a Ph.D. in Microbiology, an organizer of the early Egyptian Arab Spring gatherings and an Emmy-nominated filmmaker… Meet our 13 up-and-comers building new ventures.

This is the ninth cohort we’ve hosted, with more than 130 participants to date. Not pictured: Emiliana Garcia Photo by Skyler Reid

Make progress on a venture in four months. That’s the challenge embraced by the 13 participants in our entrepreneurial journalism program. Some are building on an existing product. Others are laying the foundation for a new service. Each venture aims to fill a journalism market gap in a sustainable way. Some in the cohort have a long background in journalism. Others are newer to the field, drawing from experience, expertise and insight in other domains. Everyone is doing something new to stretch themselves and to serve a community. Here’s a brief intro to the members of this year’s group:

  • Abdelrahman Mansour is an Egyptian entrepreneur and the Founder & CEO of the Open Transformation Lab Foundation in New York. He was the co-administrator of “We are All Khaled Said,” the largest political Facebook page in the Middle East, which helped start the Egyptian Revolution.
  • Elise Czajkowski most recently worked as U.S. Editor for YouGov, a political polling and market research company. Before that, she covered the New York City comedy scene, writing for publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, and Vulture. She’s exploring how to address unequal access to quality information. Here’s her post about the problem:
  • Emiliana Garcia led the digital transformation of bilingual newspaper La Voz of Guanacaste, which publishes investigative reporting with a focus on hyper-local stories. She is now preparing to start a Center for Investigative Reporting of Latin America based in Nosara, Costa Rica.
  • Octavio Blanco is a multimedia journalist for Consumer Reports, with 20 years experience covering business. He’s building Livin’ Americana, which celebrates Latinos transforming and revitalizing American cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Here’s his initial post documenting his project:
  • K. Dominic McKenzie recently earned an M.A. degree in Journalism from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where he served as class speaker at commencement. He’s exploring how to address the needs of future journalists in Jamaica, where he was born.
  • Kate Panova founded, which helps navigate immigration and life in the states. Rubic reaches hundreds of thousands of Russian speakers every month. She’s exploring new revenue streams for her venture.
  • Jonathan Goodman Levitt is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and the founder of Changeworx. He’s developing innovative educational tools that leverage the use of films in the classroom. His films as a director and/or producer have been supported by BBC, PBS, Netflix, NHK-Japan, Ford Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, and Sundance Institute.
  • Diogo A. Rodriguez, a journalist and social scientist, created Me Explica, an explanatory news platform. He has spoken at TEDx and freelanced for Brazil’s main media outlets. Diogo is exploring the level of demand for accessible explanatory news products aimed at a general audience. Here’s his initial post about his project:
  • elisabetta tola earned a Ph.D. in Microbiology then turned to science, tech & data journalism. She founded, a web lab for data-driven stories and tools, and co-founded Italian science communication agency formicablu, and now, a nonprofit Mediterranean science and data journalism center. Here’s her post about her project:
  • Kedisha Samuels was a logistics specialist in the Navy. She is now working on a travel publication that serves veterans. She aims to provide useful, actionable information for vets under-served by today’s travel media. Here’s her post about starting the development process:
  • Estephani Cano recently completed the Urban Reporting concentration at the Newmark J-School. She proposes to serve the Latinx community with a bilingual multimedia platform focused on great journalism made by and for the Latinx community.
  • Sindy Nanclares recently completed the Spanish-language concentration at the Newmark J-School. She has interned for El Pais, El Diario NY and NBC Universal. Sindy aims to build an in-depth journalism outlet for multicultural & multigenerational Hispanic neighborhoods in NYC.
  • kamala sripada is a New Delhi-based journalist who worked as an anchor and reporter for CNN-News18. She helped build data journalism projects as part of the International Centre for Journalists Knight program in India. Kamala is exploring new approaches to providing local news outside of big cities in India. Here’s her initial post: